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Opinion

Game Of The Year 2016 - Best Story & Best Character

Controversy awaits.

Game stories are becoming increasingly important as each year goes by, with the big studios pumping a ton of money into weaving deep and compelling worlds, hiring some of the biggest names in entertainment to take part, and spreading lore not just through the games but associated books and movies. A good story is nothing without its cast of characters though, and through the years we’ve had memorable ones pop up with the mere mention of them able to give you a nostalgia trip. A character can make or break a franchise.

2016 has had a number of stories told through the medium of games, and along with that a new bunch of characters have entered the world while established ones have returned too. Blockbusters have found themselves battling with much smaller stories over the last year, but did one of them succeed or did a new kid on the block steal the thunder?


Firewatch

Campo Santo’s Firewatch could be considered one of the surprise hits of 2016. In an industry where games with guns and action rule, a game with a plot revolving around a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness doesn’t sound like it would gain much attention. Yet the story that unfolds as Henry explores the wilderness in an attempt to solve a mystery while balancing a relationship with Delilah, his one link to the outside world, managed to captivate players. Firewatch’s story is not just about solving a mystery but dealing with a relationship and how to pursue it, something everyone can relate to in some way.

Firewatch’s mystery will keep you guessing for a while too, especially as you find them in the wilderness the clues to the mystery add up. You get drawn in and like any good mystery Firewatch makes you care about the outcome – no matter how divisive that outcome actually is – because you’re so invested.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

When it comes to stories in gaming, it would be foolish to ignore Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. While it is more grounded than the previous games in the series, Uncharted 4 tells a story that protagonist Nathan Drake is invested in the most, with the mysterious reappearance of his older brother Sam and his plea for help to find that one last lost treasure. Nathan is drawn back into a world he thought he had left behind in an attempt to help his brother while faces from his past, both friendly and unfriendly, appear. It is a worldwide caper that explores personal relationships while also presenting a story that focuses on a piece of pirate history that could have really changed the world.

Uncharted 4 is also a chapter in a much bigger arc that has spanned two console generations now, and that is the journey of Nathan Drake himself and how his adventures have defined him. It’s in this game that his journey comes to a definitive conclusion, while also sowing the seeds for a new journey to start.

Virginia

A first person mystery following a rookie FBI agent on her first case, as she tries to locate a missing child while also keeping an eye on her new partner, there’s strong parallels and inspirations from classic 90s TV series such as Twin Peaks and The X-Files. It even borrows the style of TV and film editing, with sharp cuts that remove every unnecessary moment of trudging through corridors that you find in other games.

Yet the entire story is told without a single word being spoken. Every single moment, every plot beat, every emotion, it’s all conveyed to you by what you see on screen. It could be someone’s face screw up in anger, a door slamming in your face, it could be the symbolism of a small dead bird or your dreams. What makes Virigina stand out isn’t necessarily the story, but the way it’s told.

Our winner for 2016’s Best Story goes to:

Runners up in alphabetical order:

  • Quantum Break
  • Steins;Gate 0
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Virginia

Now we move on to the best character and this discussion panned out in direction that led to a number of varied options being put forward by the team, but by the end of it one stood above the rest.

Nathan Drake

Nathan Drake is one of the most prominent video game characters to enter the scene, making a mark almost ten years ago in the first Uncharted game. Since then he has travelled the world, looking for treasure, going against goons and paranormal characters, and built relationships. Throughout his adventures we’ve seen him wisecrack, but Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is where we see him most emotionally exposed.

In Uncharted 4 Nathan has to deal with finding out his brother is alive after believing he had been killed years ago. That revelation brings him joy but also stress as this leads to going around the world while trying to balance his marriage with Elena. You see Nathan struggling with trying to please both of these people in his life, ultimately coming up short in a somewhat more grounded rendition of the character than previous outings.

Nadine Ross

We’re sticking with Uncharted 4 here and this time with new character Nadine Ross, a South African mercenary who is on the opposite side to the Drakes. The interesting thing about Nadine’s nomination is that she wasn’t in the original list, but that while discussing Nathan Drake she came up as contender for being the best character in Uncharted 4. What made her a strong candidate is the attitude she brings to the franchise.

Unlike the majority of the villains in the Uncharted series, Nadine isn’t here to find a treasure for herself or rule the world. Instead as a leader a mercenary group she just wants to get paid. In a way she represents what a realistically ruthless person would do if they were transplanted into the Uncharted universe. There are times, especially one particular moment near the end, where she underscores how ridiculous the situation is and calls people out for it. It could be argued that in Uncharted 4 Nadine is the most sensible character of the entire cast.

In quite a surprising twist, Nadine Ross of Uncharted 4 goes from last minute nomination to Best Character of the Year. The comments are open below; we can’t wait.

Runners up in alphabetical order:

  • BT-7274 – Titanfall 2
  • E3N – Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Henry – Firewatch
  • Nathan Drake – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Tracer – Overwatch
  • Trico – The Last Guardian
14 Comments
  1. Jim Hargreaves
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    “Tracer – Overwatch”

    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 17:12.
  2. beeje13
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Will have to play Firewatch some time.

    Nice to see Infinite Warfare sneak a mention there. Omar, Salter, and the playable character Reyes are very strong and well acted imo. Kit Harrington’s Kotch is very convincing but underused.

    Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 17:22.
    • Jim Hargreaves
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      Agree about COD. E3N really stood out for me. Unlike Titanfall’s BT he acts as though he’s another human yet isn’t bound by the same limitations. That made for such an interesting dynamic.

      Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 17:33.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        I really enjoyed Kotch as well. Some of the same maniacal single-mindedness as Killzone’s Visari, and it really works. And E3N’s just a total sweetheart.

        Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 17:38.
  3. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Firewatch was very good, maybe not quite as good as how much it was hyped, but that’s ok and not their fault. Virginia sounds interesting, will try to get around finally playing the demo that sits on my PS4 for quite a while already.

    But, Nadine Ross..? Seriously? I found her completely forgettable.

    Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 17:52.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Sounds like a serious concussion from the several times she kicked Drake’s arse.

      Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 18:35.
      • MOVE
        Member
        Since: Mar 2010

        For me it seemed more as if the writer didn’t quite know where to put her; she was a baddy but he didn’t want to make her real bad – after all she is a woman.

        Which is probably why we don’t get hit her in any of the confrontations (and the flying attack from Nate doesn’t count). Except for Rafe; he is apparently stupid (and evil) enough to slap her at one point despite her pedigree – is that because we should feel sorry for the abused woman?

        No, Nadine is the typical modern example of a fictional female character who (God I hate this phrase) Kicks arse, is sexy but also questions the world around= is wise. In short – she is human goddess.

        I was very disappointed to see her appear in the dlc for UC 4 – I’m sure she’s (Neal Druckman) going to eff it up.

        Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 22:35.
    • ron_mcphatty
      Member
      Since: Sep 2008

      Yeah I’m in the same boat about Nadine, I’m trying but I can’t remember all that much and definitely don’t remember any character development.
      Nate stole the show though, physically superhuman with finger muscles running on plutonium but at the same time lovable and entirely real. I loved how his bravado bookended each cutscene and set you up to play the game as him, but in between got subdued and mixed with guilt, anger and compassion whilst dealing with Elena, Sam and Sully. He’s a really wonderful character, one of my favourites out of any kind of fiction.

      Comment posted on 23/12/2016 at 08:21.
  4. gazzagb
    Master of speling mitakse
    Since: Feb 2009

    I really liked the look of Firewatch when I first saw it at E3, the visuals looked stunning and I liked the story – if it wasn’t a walking simulator I’m sure I would have enjoyed it.

    Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 18:24.
  5. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    I liked the characters in Firewatch, but found the story to be a real anticlimax. The whole thing was building up to something great, then flopped spectaculary, imo.

    Comment posted on 22/12/2016 at 20:57.
  6. JR.
    Member
    Since: Apr 2013

    I played Uncharted 4 twice and cannot remember a single thing about Nadine.

    It will be interesting to see what they do with her in the DLC because honestly, it will be like having a completely new character to me.

    Firewatch was great. Can’t argue with that :)

    I know it’s subjective but some of the winners so far feel like they were picked to be ‘different’ rather than actually being the ‘best’. Like if Nathan Drake gave an oscar worthy performance in U4, your best character award would still go to Boat-driving Henchman #7 in opening sequence.

    It does make things a bit more interesting though I guess.

    Comment posted on 23/12/2016 at 02:44.
    • Andrewww
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      I fully agree, Henchman #7 was brilliant..! :o)

      Comment posted on 23/12/2016 at 09:46.
  7. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Firewatch is a truly deserving winner. Nadine however, I had completely forgotten was even in the game.

    Comment posted on 24/12/2016 at 16:10.
  8. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    Personally, I would have disqualified Drake from the list on account of it being the 3rd sequel due to a lot of choices this year.

    I would have chosen:

    DoomGuy due to the use of no dialogue yet able to tell a better story then most voiced first person characters.

    Story wise:

    A toss up between Dark Souls 3 and Doom.

    Villian wise:

    The very last boss of III. Gameplay wise and how it is a true final boss of a trilogy. It’s basically a NPC invader that is on steroids, ate all the other invaders, ate a boss from the first one and is a test of one’s skills.

    That and as someone stuck in the last gen, I can only go for what i’ve researched.

    Overwatch Tracer as a runner up? Kinda hard for me to believe that on account of Overwatch being a MP shooter and feel that if it is due to the material outside the game, it isn’t really suitable as a award due to it being boosted by material outside the game.

    Tis just my view anyway.

    Comment posted on 24/12/2016 at 17:18.